New Delhi, January 6, 2024 – In a swift and successful operation, the Indian Navy rescued the crew of the Liberian-flagged MV Lila Norfolk, a bulk carrier that faced an attempted hijack in the Arabian Sea. The incident occurred approximately 460 nautical miles off Somalia.
#IndianNavy’s Swift Response to the Hijacking Attempt of MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea.— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) January 5, 2024
All 21 crew (incl #15Indians) onboard safely evacuated from the citadel.
Sanitisation by MARCOs has confirmed absence of the hijackers.
The attempt of hijacking by the pirates… https://t.co/OvudB0A8VV pic.twitter.com/616q7avNjg
- The attempted hijacking took place on Thursday when about five to six armed individuals boarded the vessel. The crew promptly gathered in the ship’s citadel, as reported by the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency.
- The Indian Navy, acting on the received report, swiftly intercepted the vessel less than a day after the incident. Notably, no pirates were found on board during the rescue operation.
- All 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, were successfully evacuated, ensuring their safety.
- The Liberian-flagged MV Lila Norfolk, chartered by Anglo-American, departed from the Acu port in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 6, carrying iron ore. The ship is en route to Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain and is scheduled to arrive on January 12.
- The Indian Navy stated that the attempted hijacking was likely abandoned due to a forceful warning issued by them.
- The recent surge in hijacking and attempted hijacking incidents in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea has raised concerns. The Indian Navy has heightened surveillance in the region following these attacks.
- Experts attribute the increase in pirate activities to the shift in the focus of anti-piracy maritime forces from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. The sudden revival in ship hijackings is seen as a consequence of the diverted attention of U.S.-led naval forces.
- Data from the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region reveals at least three hijackings in December, marking a significant increase compared to the six-year lull since the last reported incident in 2017.
- Abhijit Singh, head of the Maritime Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, suggests that the pirates are exploiting the decreased focus on the Gulf of Aden by anti-piracy maritime forces.
In conclusion, the prompt and successful rescue operation by the Indian Navy highlights the importance of maritime security in the face of renewed threats in the Arabian Sea. The incident underscores the need for continued vigilance and international cooperation to counter piracy in the region.